How Stored Product Pests Can Contaminate a Restaurant's Food
Many of the food ingredients kept in your restaurant can be a big attractor for stored product pests such as moths, psocids, beetles and others. Even if your restaurant has never had a stored product pest problem, these nuisances can arrive along with your next food delivery and can set up residence in your shelving, cabinets, cupboards and pantries. When it comes to restaurant pest control, stored product pests can be an ongoing and sometimes frustrating challenge.
Why Should You Be Concerned About Stored Product Pests In Your Restaurant?
Stored product pests can adversely impact your restaurant in many ways, like:
- Widespread infestations can have more than one source, making them challenging to control.
- These pests, which breed inside the product and can leave behind eggs and larvae, as well as exoskeletons and other body parts, create unsanitary conditions and contaminate food items. Once the infestation reaches a certain size, these pests will move outside of the product.
- They can attack many types of foods, including whole grains, wheat, corn, barley, rice, beans, nuts and others.
- If your workers break open an infested container, productivity can be decreased when they have to spend time discarding the contents, cleaning up the mess, locating uncontaminated product to use and replacing the spoiled food.
- Unchecked stored product pest infestations may possibly lead to health code and inspection violations.
What are Some Types of Stored Product Pests?
Proper stored product pest identification is a key component in knowing how best to control them. While stored product pests can vary according to the food source, your area of the country and conditions found in your restaurant, here are some common types:
Saw-toothed and Merchant Grain Beetles
- These beetles are commonly found infesting processed grain, oats, pet foods and seeds. They also attack rice, cereals, dried fruits, breakfast foods, chocolate and pastas.
- These pests range in color from brown to dark brown, and are about 1/10th of an inch in size.
- Merchant grain beetles can fly, while the saw-toothed variety cannot.
- They multiply rapidly -- a single female saw-toothed or merchant grain beetle may produce up to 285 eggs that are deposited into your food.
- Large populations can develop in short periods, which can force adults to leave infested foods to find new sources, invading nearby containers and causing widespread infestations.
Red and Confused Flour Beetles
- Similar in biology and habits, the red flour beetle flies but the confused flour beetle does not.
- They are both about 1/8th of an inch long and reddish brown.
- In heated buildings, both can breed year-round.
- The red flour beetle is often found in southern states and the confused flour beetle is usually found in northern states, but it's possible to see them outside of their usual habitat in any state.
- Females eventually lay around 300 to 400 eggs. Adult beetles can live up to three years or longer.
- Heavily infested flour and other processed foods often have a grayish tint
Indian Meal Moths
- About 5/8th of an inch long with a wingspan under an inch, these moths are a mixture of brownish-red and gray.
- These moths spin silk at the bottom of packaging when they start to come out. Webbing is often found inside the packaging as well. The food will become discolored when the infestation becomes heavy.
- Indian meal moths can infest flour, nuts, chocolate, seeds, beans, biscuits, dried fruits and many other types of stored foods.
What Can My Restaurant Do to Help Avoid Stored Product Pest Problems?
There are some simple, smart steps you can take to help prevent stored product pest infestations:
- Store all dried food goods in glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids to help prevent pests from getting in and to help contain any infestations that do occur.
- Always inspect food deliveries for signs of pest infestations. If deliveries look as though they have been infested or tampered with by pests, then refuse delivery or send them back.
- If possible, store cereals and other dry food products in the refrigerator to help avoid pest problems.
- Use older food products prior to opening newer purchases. Large quantity or bulk products are more likely to be infested the longer they are stored.
- Discard infested foods in outdoor trash containers.
- Get help from a commercial pest control partner, like Terminix® Commercial, with experience in treating restaurants and stored product pests. Our knowledgeable and trained technicians can spot signs of early infestations as well as conditions that may attract the pests.